Now more than ever, we need to be kind. We need to show compassion daily. We need more love in this world. We cannot become hardened to tragedy. We must all have a mother's spirit when an innocent person dies, when our children are forced to bear the burden of adult pain.
I have been grieving over the victims that died in Newtown, Connecticut. The innocent babies, their laughter and wide-eyed wonder gone. Why? Why do people do bad things? Why do we do bad things? What small and big moments lead us to evil?
I don't know but I'm sad and confused over this, and all I can grasp right now are the words of wisdom that I hear echoing in my head:
We must be kind. We must show compassion, and be standards of positivity. We must work to support each others' brilliance, and the differences that often cover and support it. We must edify each other constantly, even if we don't understand. We must hug and love freely, and practice empathy until it becomes an instinct. There are too many people in this world for anyone to feel alone, and life can end too soon.
I don't do enough. I don't give enough or smile enough or love enough. I am not as free as I could be, and the world is waiting. There is a piece of God missing, and it is because I am afraid to let it loose. We must all work hard to not be afraid. We must let our truths fly. The universe's interdependence cannot be taken lately. We all really do need each other.
In the spirit of giving love, I was recently given an amazing opportunity by Etsy to do something philanthropic and wonderful. Inspired by The Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy, they gave me $100 and told me to use it in a charitable way for people I don't know. I could give it to a stranger walking down the street, or leave a bunch of $20 bills in random places. The choice was mine. I decided to break my $100 into smaller amounts, and incorporate my love of food, music and creativity into this project. I also wanted to stay within my neighborhood in the North Bronx. I truly love this neighborhood, and the people in it.
With $5, I bought a holiday card, and asked some of my fellow Etsy co-workers to write well-wishes to a random stranger. Then, I taped the card inside of a canopied bus stop in my neighborhood for someone/anyone/everyone to read and enjoy.
Then, I bought five $10 gift cards from my local grocery store. Along with these, I asked Etsy for five of their tote bags to give with the cards. There's really no need for plastic grocery bags, is there?
Next, I bought three $15 iTunes gift cards, and in of them put inside a paper with 15 of my favorite songs.
There were a few people who refused to accept these gifts. I understand. Many New York City residents are always on some level of defense. In this big city, we need to be. Nevertheless, kindness with no strings attached should still be spread freely. Caution and community can go hand-in-hand.
I'm grateful for the people that accepted my gifts. For a brief moment, they trusted a stranger. Perhaps they had faith that what I was saying was true, or perhaps they really needed money for food and had no choice but to accept a free grocery gift card. Perhaps they just needed a friend, or a happy, unexpected diversion from an otherwise confusing life, if only for a few brief seconds.
For whatever reason they chose to accept my gifts, giving made me feel good.
This project inspired something in me that I hope to grow. I aim to be a builder of hope, and aim to provide a safe space for kindness, even if it is with a smile or a listening ear. The world desperately needs it, and so do I.